'Red Room' Interview: Ed Piskor Illuminates the Dark Web
Apr 06, 2021
Interview by Troy-Jeffrey Allen
You know the name: Ed Piskor. He gave you Hip Hop Family Tree, X-Men: Grand Design, and Cartoonists Kayfabe. But just because Piskor's rep is that of a comics historian these days does not mean he doesn't have his own story to tell! And that's where RED ROOM (MAR211290) opens the door...!
Written and drawn by Ed Piskor (of course!) this dark web house of horrors promises to be an unhinged "punk" thrill ride. In the following interview, Piskor explains what makes this title so "outlaw" and why it isn't for the weak of heart. Turn away now if you ain't got it in you! Because Piskor is about to paint the town red...
PREVIEWSworld: What is RED ROOM all about?
Ed Piskor: Murder on the dark web for fun and profit. Think about those camgirl websites where they livestream to viewers who offer tip money to have their requests processed. This is the carnographic version of that.
And each issue will be a self-contained story focused on a single character?
They'll all be self-contained stories but you read them all for the bigger picture. I really liked the way the early dozen or 18 issues of Stray Bullets were composed. You'll see the same characters here and there in different contexts in other stories. But every issue will be a complete experience.
This is such a unique concept. What made you want to explore the underworld of the Dark Web?
I was reading tons of horror books while working on X-Men Grand Design and when I got around to Stephen King's Danse Macabre, he laid out all the horror over the 20th century that captured the zeitgeist and those works all fit in with moments or situations that were happening in their day. These days, the dark web is so mysterious and rife with horrific possibilities. This is my chance to create a cool horror comic that literally couldn't have existed 15 years ago.
You write and draw RED ROOM. What is that process like?
I do. I trust very few comics that aren't made by a single person. The process is liquid though. I'm doing different things every issue to keep it fun, to experiment, and to stay engaged for the long haul. On the latest piece I did, I decided to rough it all out very detailed at once and then ink it all at once. I might do that again on the next one.
You’ve called RED ROOM “modern Day E.C. Comics.” Can you elaborate?
This is a pulp comic I'm making. Tongue in cheek horror stories. Also a dash of fun mixed in to keep us all from needing vitamin D lamps to read the damn things. Complete stories in each issue. Perhaps a twist ending in most stories. Lots of memorable horrors. Most importantly, there will be the sense of completion and satisfaction after reading each issue.
Is there a sort of “crypt-keeper” that connects these stories?
No. But I do lean into it for the fourth issue. You'll meet the "Crypto-currency Keeper". Bitcoin is very important in order to get RED ROOM's to work.
This was originally crowdfunded. How did the book end up at Fantagraphics?
Nah, it wasn't crowdfunded. I do have a Patreon, but everything up there right now was drawn before I had a patreon.
Fantagraphics is the most important comic book company running today. They've held their own for 40+ years when everyone else was getting extravagant. We've done great business together for years and it's fun to keep things going. Gary and Eric also aren't the fellas to be pushed around when it comes to the work they publish. Red Room will have some controversial moments and I need to have publishers in my corner who aren't corny.
You’ve been working on this story for quite some time, is there a particular moment in the comic you couldn’t wait to draw? Can you tell us what it is?
The whole thing is designed to be fun and engaging. It's not all planned out so I just take each page as it comes. There's going to be around 300 pages so its gotta stay fun for the long haul.
In terms of audience, who is RED ROOM for?
Red Room is my version of a YA (young adult) comic. It's definitely the kind of stuff I was reading then. Obviously, horror heads are going to love it when they get their hands on an issue.
Red Room (MAR211290) is available to pre-order now at comic shops everywhere.
Aided by the anonymous dark web and nearly untraceable cryptocurrency, a criminal subculture has emerged. It livestreams murders as entertainment. Who are the killers? Who are the victims? Who is paying to watch? How to stop it? Red Room is constructed as a series of interconnected stories, shining a light on the characters who exist in the ugliest of corners in cyberspace. Piskor cuts the graphic horror with his sharp sense of humor, gorgeous cartooning, and dynamic storytelling. Red Room peels back the curtain on the side of humanity few of us knew existed, let alone understood. Fans and followers of Piskor's YouTube channel sensation, Cartoonist Kayfabe, have already made Red Room: The Antisocial Network one of the most eagerly anticipated and talked-about releases of 2021. It is the first in a series of graphic novels, with the second scheduled for release in Summer 2022.
Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes MF DOOM; All Caps, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Awards-nominated Magic Bullet.